Posted: Feb 26 2008
By Scott Hurrey
In sharp contrast to the last few seasons, the Caps are buyers in today's NHL trade deadline sale, and they've jumped in skate-first.
The first acquisition for the Red, White and Blue is Cristobal Huet, In exchange for the former King and Canadien, the Caps send Montreal the second round pick in the 2009 NHL entry draft. This is the same pick the Capitals picked up from Anaheim earlier this season in exchange for center Brian Sutherby. This trade would lead one to believe that Brent Johnson will spend the remainder of the season in Hershey.
Shortly thereafter, the Caps announced a trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets that netted Washington one of the most decorated Russian NHL-ers in the history of the game in Sergei Federov.In return, the Capitals send Theo Ruth to Columbus. The Caps selected Ruth, a freshman defenseman playing for Notre Dame in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association, in the second round of last year's draft
In the third move of the day, the Washington Capitals send winger Matt Pettinger to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for fellow left wing Matt Cooke.
Huet, pronounced YOO-iht, joins the Capitals from Montreal, where he has posted decent numbers. His 21 victories (21-12-6 overall) and 2.55 goals against average both rank 19th in the league in victories, Huet is 11th in save percentage with .916. The 2007 all-star posted two shut-outs this season, including a 35-save effort against the Caps Jan. 29.
Listed at 6-1 and 204 pounds, the Frenchman from Saint-Martin-D’Heres boasts a 72-59-11-13 record in 170 career NHL games, with a 2.49 GAA, a .917 save percentage and 15 career shut-outs. He led the NHL in save percentage during the 2005-06 season with an impressive .929 mark. Interestingly enough, Huet made his North American hockey debut for the Manchester Monarchs of the American Hockey League under Capitals' coach Bruce Boudreau.
Sergei Federov, a 38-year-old center, brings 17 years of experience and an inordinate amount of success to the young Caps organization. His name has been etched on Lord Stanley's cup three times, all with the Red Wings, one of which came at the Caps expense in their only Stanley Cup final appearance. Federov is a six-time all-star, a former Hart trophy winner for league MVP and two-time Selke award winner, given to the top defensive forward in the league. Internationally, he has played in two Olympic games, two World Cups, a Canada Cup and three World Junior Championships.
Sergei has 28 points in 50 games this season, and has averaged just shy of a point per game over his illustrious career, notching 1,133 points (470-663-1,133) in 1,178 games with Detroit, Anaheim and Columbus. That point total ranks 47th in NHL history. His 470 goals is good for 50th, and his assists rank 54th. Perhaps most impressive is his plus/minus rating; Federov is second amongst active forwards at an unbelievable +259.
The 29-year-old Cooke has spent 9 seasons in the NHL, all with the Canucks. Cooke has potted seven goals and added nine assists in his 2007-08 campaign. In all, Cooke has posted 83 goals and 120 assists in 566 career games. The former sixth rounder has appeared in 32 post-season contests, lighting the lamp eight times as part of his 12 post-season points.
The acquisitions of Federov and Cooke add post-season experience to an young team, and the addition of Huet gives the Caps a powerful 1-2 punch between the pipes for the stretch run to the play-offs. Attendance at Verizon Center is up, and the Caps appear to be trying to put a good product on the ice to keep the fans coming back.
Hopefully these changes will push the Red, White and Blue into the play-offs, where recent history has shown, the Southeast division always seems to make some noise.